Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

Change the conversation – don’t play the numbers game.

July 12, 2013

For new entrants to the phone or tablet market the conversation always turns to how many apps there are. At launch, a year later, how fast the numbers are growing. The conversation is driven by the incumbents and echoed by the press and makes it very hard for a newcomer to be taken seriously.

What would happen though if a new entrant to the space, such as Mozilla with the Firefox Phone, decides not to obsess about the numbers game, but own the narrative and re-write the rules…

If you play the numbers game means you are spread thin, chasing a huge catalog and will constantly be behind the ball playing “me too” and catch up at the mercy of the big fish who probably don’t see you worth the effort until you have an established presence.

Defining your rules allows you to identify a small selection, maybe a dozen, of apps that users want, need or actually use as a base line and expend significant effort working with those partners to create the best version of their experience on your platform.

You help with engineering, dollars and resources, providing money, talent and demonstrating true partnership. Engage deeply with your partners and share the risk – you both need to comfortable enough to experiment with new features on your new platform, to iterate and fail fast but within that small group drive their success while establishing your new platform and demonstrating what is possible.

For most of the incumbents this isn’t the way they play the game. Apple dictate to partners secure in their position, Google, with Android, rely on OEMs and the scale of their store to drive developers. Microsoft have a huge field Evangelism organization who can wield marketing dollars but are chasing numbers and have quarterly goals to meet and don’t seem to have the patience for long term engagements any more. BlackBerry are desperately copying any playbook that seems to make work but are finding resurrecting their brand hard going.

For a new player it’s a losing proposition to try and get into their race. Even if you launch with 50 thousand apps there will be the issue of quality and questions around the presence of the “must haves” who won’t have taken the risk, and every omission will hurt. If you make the headlines read “Twitter launches their next generation client on Firefox OS“, “Evernote delivers game changing update first for Firefox OS” you can control the conversation.

By controlling the conversation you become a platform that is aspirational and seen as innovative.

That is where technology evangelism has to return too, not being driven by the same old marketing and PR story that is seen as safe conventional widsom

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Off shopping for a Windows8 laptop

February 23, 2013

While I’m loving Windows8 via Fusion on my Macbook Air, my daughters HP tx2 has finally bitten the dust (two batteries, two chargers, a strip down to repair the fan) but it’s done a good 4 years of daily (and pretty unforgiving) use.

So it was time to go shopping.

Her requirements were pretty simple – about the same size as the tx2, a decent keyboard, WiFi and bluetooth (for the mouse) and good graphics capabilities.

(more…)

Standard laptop power supplies

October 5, 2011

I look around my office and I’ve got about a dozen different laptop power adapters – for current and dead machines. Even so I’ve spend the last few days trying to find a power brick to charge one perfectly good machine but neither the dedicated adapters or the three “universal” chargers I have support this particular connection.

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I really like the Apple “mag safe” connector but sadly they won’t license that to anyone (or they probably would but it’s not economically feasible). The concept of a universal adapter is a good one but, having gone through the experience of Targus deciding to redesign their tips and stop making tips for new devices for their old chargers, I’m now rather cynical about how much of a solution they actually provide.

So I’ve wasted time and energy trying to track down a simple, yet crucial, accessory – without which I have a very nice, very shiny paperweight. Oh, and a growing loathing for yet another electronics manufacturer who doesn’t even maintain an up-to-date list of what models their own adapters work with online (and even after a couple of days the problem appears to have stumped their support team)

5 years ago I had a similar rant about cellphone chargers and it looks like things are finally settling down there with even Apple selling a micro-USB to iPhone dongle (maybe the iPhone5 will have micro USB only… we can dream!) – laptop, netbook, slate/tablet’s still have a long way to go 😦

Standard laptop power supplies

October 5, 2011

I look around my office and I’ve got about a dozen different laptop power adapters – for current and dead machines. Even so I’ve spend the last few days trying to find a power brick to charge one perfectly good machine but neither the dedicated adapters or the three “universal” chargers I have support this particular connection.

Image001

I really like the Apple “mag safe” connector but sadly they won’t license that to anyone (or they probably would but it’s not economically feasible). The concept of a universal adapter is a good one but, having gone through the experience of Targus deciding to redesign their tips and stop making tips for new devices for their old chargers, I’m now rather cynical about how much of a solution they actually provide.

So I’ve wasted time and energy trying to track down a simple, yet crucial, accessory – without which I have a very nice, very shiny paperweight. Oh, and a growing loathing for yet another electronics manufacturer who doesn’t even maintain an up-to-date list of what models their own adapters work with online (and even after a couple of days the problem appears to have stumped their support team)

5 years ago I had a similar rant about cellphone chargers and it looks like things are finally settling down there with even Apple selling a micro-USB to iPhone dongle (maybe the iPhone5 will have micro USB only… we can dream!) – laptop, netbook, slate/tablet’s still have a long way to go 😦

eBooks or paperbacks…

August 22, 2011

While I’m a fan of my Kindle (and the Kindle app on my phone) I still have a problem with the whole ebook pricing and licensing model and it’s best summed up with this picture…

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So, I can buy a license to read the book I want (admittedly in a very convenient and handy package) for 8 bucks, or pick up a new paperback copy for half that. If I want second hand (and many of the second hand books on Amazon are indistinguishable from new) I pay a tenth of that.

Okay, so the downside is I may have a pay a little for shipping, and wait a couple of days rather than get instance over-the-air gratification but when I get it…. It’s all mine.

I don’t have to worry about a licensing issue making the book I’ve bought disappear. I don’t have to get anyone’s approval if I want to lend a copy to a friend, leave it in a coffee shop for a random stranger or sell it at our local Half Price Books to further my addiction (when I moved from Australia to the US I think books weighed more than any other item we shipped!)

I don’t have a problem with authors getting paid (I want them to keep writing after all!), I understand there are costs with marketing and distributing a book (but when it’s just bytes and electrons it’s a lot less than producing a dead tree format, and no risk on inventory) but this feels like a very one sided step into the future.

With my Zune Pass subscription I get an “all I can eat” subscription plan for music I can consume on my Zune (which also provides in-car listening), Windows Phone and laptop so I don’t worry about the fact I don’t actually own the content (though with Zune Pass you do get 10 credits a month to download to own tracks) and I know that the artists are getting paid behind the scenes

I would love a Kindle subscription service that lets me grab any book I want and read it. Every time I enjoy a book the author (and of course publisher etc) would get part of the monthly subscription (encouraging them to write better books!) and I wouldn’t have this hang-up about not being able to decide what to do with the book when I’ve read it.

I don’t think that eReaders like the Kindle are a fad. I think there is more evolution to come in both the reader hardware and the retail channels as the hardware gets smarter and cheaper and the author/reader relationship maybe gets redefined … but at the end of it all I really hope that the love of reading and the art of writing are what wins out…

Do you pray you’ll never lose your laptop or phone

May 18, 2011

How many laptop or mobile phone users have ever had that sinking feeling when you realize your precious device isn’t where you thought it was. Your phone isn’t in your pocket or your laptop disappears from your bag on a crowded train.

If you’ve planned ahead and installed a small bit of software from the Prey Project then you can do more than pray…

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Prey is a small utility that hides itself away (on Windows, OSX, Linux and many different types of smartphone) and, most of the time, does nothing.

However if it receives an instruction to wake up and go to work (for computers that’s via the web control panel you can access from anywhere, for smartphones it’s via an SMS message) any thief will be in for a surprise…

When activated Prey will collect as much information as it can to help you track it down – GPS location, IP address, available wifi networks and, if it has a webcam, it’ll even take a picture of its surroundings. All this information gets bundled up and send to the web console every 20 minutes (or however often you set it for) until you gather enough information to either have law enforcement go and pick it up (or sheepishly go back to Starbucks to collect it).

Prey is open source and free for basic use, but they do have a more powerful commercial version (Prey Pro) available if you need more features or the ability to manage a large number of devices.

More toys for my MCE

January 9, 2006

My Media Centre (Windows XP MCE edition) has been ticking along quite nicely for the last couple of months…. in fact so well that there are only a couple of issues… too many remotes and not enough space to store stuff.To solve the problem with the remotes I’ve got a Logitech Harmony 880 – it’s a very clever bit of hardware able to do a lot more than your average ‘learning’ remote… for

More toys for my MCE

January 9, 2006

My Media Centre (Windows XP MCE edition) has been ticking along quite nicely for the last couple of months…. in fact so well that there are only a couple of issues… too many remotes and not enough space to store stuff.

To solve the problem with the remotes I’ve got a Logitech Harmony 880 – it’s a very clever bit of hardware able to do a lot more than your average ‘learning’ remote… for instance, press one button to watch TV and it turns on the TV, Media Centre and AMP, sets the right channel on the TV and gets MCE to the right screen. Watching a recorded show or turning it all off again is just as easy. Initially the only real hiccup with setting up the remote was that the amp wasn’t recognised (so a few extra seconds of learning) and the TV doesn’t start up as quickly as the remote would like (so needed to tweak some settings to give it some more time)

The other new toy was storage… a pair of 7200rpm 300GB Maxtor 6L300SO SATA drives configured as a single Windows XP Dynamic drive – should keep the family happy for a short while at least 😉

There is only one little niggle remaining… not enough tuners (why do the networks deliberatly overlap the good shows?!)